Bergson and perspectivism


This study is an exploration of the place of perspectivism in the philosophy of Henri Bergson. His work is compared with that of Thomas Nagel in terms of the mutual concern of these two philosophers to reconcile our increasingly objecti vist and impersonal understanding of reality with the perspectival apprehension of the world that living and conscious beings instantiate. It argues that Bergson's philosophy of time holds the key both to comprehending and to balancing the demands made upon us by these conflicting interests. It is seldom that Bergson's name is thought of in this connection, his concerns more often than not being identified with some thesis about time, movement, or vital forces. One purpose of the present work, therefore, is to contest this interpretive slant, not merely by offering an alternative image of Bergson, but also by critically exploring his employment of perspectivism (both positive and negative). We pursue this goal through the double strategy of both unravelling the inconsistencies in Bergson's· treatment of perspective and separating his own argument from the multitude of myths, opinions, and interpretations, sympathetic and unsympathetic, that have arisen around what is currently understood by "Bergsonism". In retrieving his thought from such philosophical ghettoes as "vitalism," "spiritualism," and "psychologism," we will argue for a Bergsonian perspectivism which ultimately resides in a thesis propounding the primacy of perception. One consequence of this is the demotion of memory's importance within his thought. Not that the orthodox image of Bergsonism that retains the privileged place of memory is wrong. Rather, we argue that there is enough in Bergson's peculiar picture of perception to obviate the need for memory in his philosophy, and, moreover, that it is actually more Bergsonian that memory should be so discharged

Download options


    Upload a copy of this work     Papers currently archived: 72,743

External links

Setup an account with your affiliations in order to access resources via your University's proxy server

Through your library

  • Only published works are available at libraries.


Added to PP

22 (#518,439)

6 months
1 (#387,390)

Historical graph of downloads
How can I increase my downloads?

References found in this work

Meaning.Herbert Paul Grice - 1957 - Philosophical Review 66 (3):377-388.
Sensations and Brain Processes.Jjc Smart - 1959 - Philosophical Review 68 (April):141-56.
Naming and Necessity.S. Kripke - 1972 - Tijdschrift Voor Filosofie 45 (4):665-666.
Intentional Systems.Daniel C. Dennett - 1971 - Journal of Philosophy 68 (February):87-106.

View all 47 references / Add more references

Citations of this work

No citations found.

Add more citations

Similar books and articles

The Memory of Another Past: Bergson, Deleuze and a New Theory of Time.Alia Al-Saji - 2004 - Continental Philosophy Review 37 (2):203-239.
‘Quelque Romancier Hardi’: The Literary Bergsonist.Jesse Matz - 2011 - The European Legacy 16 (7):937 - 951.
Wandering Among Shadows: The Discordance of Time in Levinas and Bergson.Robin Durie - 2010 - Southern Journal of Philosophy 48 (4):371-392.
Thought and Repetition in Bergson and Deleuze.Jonathan Sholl - 2012 - Deleuze and Guatarri Studies 6 (4):544-563.
Bergson and the Holographic Theory of Mind.Stephen E. Robbins - 2006 - Phenomenology and the Cognitive Sciences 5 (3-4):365-394.
Sartre and Bergson: A Disagreement About Nothingness.Sarah Richmond - 2007 - International Journal of Philosophical Studies 15 (1):77 – 95.
A Present Folded Back on the Past (Bergson).Rudolf Bernet - 2005 - Research in Phenomenology 35 (1):55-76.
Bergson and Athleticism.Geoffrey Callaghan - 2013 - Sport, Ethics and Philosophy 7 (2):231-244.